For the Money.

A long ramble. Tea and biscuits at the ready…

In the dying days of my last employment – I was one of a department that closed, so we were all made redundant – my ex-boss’s parting speech included a particularly telling line. It was some years ago so I might not have remembered the exact wording.

He said ‘”When I started in science, we were chasing knowledge. Now it seems we spend all our time chasing money.”

He was right. Even though I was (and still am) twenty years younger than him, I had seen that change. Scientists were no longer employed on the basis of how good they were at discoveries. We had become employed on the sole basis of how good we were at getting grants.

Oh, and on the basis of internal politics. Our department closed after research money was whisked away, teaching duties were removed and our food-testing business was cut back not by customers, but by management. Then we were closed because we weren’t making money. Fine by me, I’ve been working solo doing the same thing for years since they kindly shut my only serious competitor, which was the department I worked for.

It’s all about money now. Whatever branch of science you are in, it doesn’t matter how good you are at finding new information. What matters is how good you are at finding money.

I used to write fiction as a hobby. It was a logical hobby for someone who spends all day writing about facts. A hobby where I could ignore statistics and details and just let my mind make stuff up. Turns out I’m not too bad at it and funnily enough, it’s because of that research ethos. I could not just invent a story about the Witchfinder General’s death, I had to research the year of his death and what else was happening at the time. I read a lot of history, looked up the witches and demons I’d need, what would have been available, what sort of trade was going on, all of it. Even so, this was all a hobby.

I’d had short stories published, sure, but they were published for beer money and often just for fun. I’d make ten bucks every two months for an article on horror-writing. Nothing even close to making a living. It was still a hobby. Now there’s a novel out, it’s not a hobby any more. The tax man is involved. I could put on a wide-brimmed hat and cape and pretend to be doing it ‘for the Art’ but the publisher is most definitely doing it for the money. Publishers are not interested in the prettiness of the prose. They are interested in what sells. Send them a manuscript full of typos and lousy grammar and they’ll send it straight back. Sure, editors can fix those things, but editors are paid by time and the less time they have to spend on one manuscript the better. You can call writing Art, but publishing that writing is run by Money.

And so the hobby became a second business with expenditure and income and receipts and tax forms and all the rest. I’m still not sure how I feel about it. In one sense, it’s nice that the work I put into those flights of fancy is recognised and actually earning a few beans. In another, it was my hobby, and now I have to take it seriously. For the money. It also means a mind-switch has flipped from ‘This is just a bit of fun’ to ‘How much could this one make?’

It seems every area of life has moved from doing it because it’s interesting or fun and maybe making money at it if you’re lucky, into doing it for the money as a first consideration. Everything is about money.

Councils used to run street-sweepers, snow-ploughs, bin collections and so on. Now they are more concerned with money than with services. The finance department is bigger and better-paid, than the bin collection department. The NHS used to cure people, not spend all day totting up the cost of aspirin and turning away cancer patients because they are too expensive to fix. That’s what you do with old cars, not people. I used to think the NHS was a good thing, and once it was, but now it’s just an accountancy department with some doctors in it.

If you take your car for an MOT, they say it’ll cost £2000 to put right and the car’s worth £200, you’ll say ‘Scrap it’ and buy another. No problem. If you take Granny to the NHS and they say it’s too expensive to treat her, do you have the same feeling as you did about the car? Why not? The NHS bean-counters regard Granny in the same way they’d regard a rusted Ford Anglia. This is the caring profession. They care, very deeply, about money.

Our government used to be there to look after the interests of the country. They’d enforce laws against killing and raping and beating people up and stealing and defrauding and they’d converse with other countries on our behalf. Now all they think about is money, and how to get more of it from us. Nothing else matters. Even when the military fire a missile into Libya, nobody cares about the people blown into mince. All we hear about is what the missiles cost.

Smoking – ‘cost to the NHS’. Overweight – ‘cost to the NHS’. Drinking – ‘cost to the NHS’. Sugar, salt, fats, anything – ‘cost to the NHS’. To hell with having a life, to hell with choice, to hell with having a bit of fun in your few short years in this world. You are only here to preserve the existence of money. You don’t matter. You exist only so that Money can continue to grow.

I could probably live longer if I gave up smoking, drinking, real butter, salt and a whole lot of other things. What the Banmeisters will never understand is that the only way I’ll live longer is by giving up everything that makes life worth living. I’d live a long and pointless existence. I have one life. I choose not to spend it cocooned in misery. Is that wrong?

For the followers of the Money God, it is very wrong indeed. I might one day require the use of the services I’ve been paying for all my life, and that would never do. It’s as unthinkable as asking the Kray Twins to make good on their ‘insurance’ deals. Money only flows one way, towards those in charge, and it must never be allowed to flow backwards.

So we hear ‘My taxes are paying for your smoking habit’. Really? Why, then, do I have to pay for my tobacco? What are my taxes paying for? Your child’s schooling, your street lighting, your roads? I have no use for schools and no use for motorways but I’m paying for them anyway. So far, nobody’s taxes have paid for my NHS treatment because I haven’t had any. When the day comes, and I’m getting older so it might well come, I’ve more than covered the cost of an entirely new robotic body. With built-in ashtray, lighter and optics.

Nobody cares about the person with lung cancer, cirrhosis or diabetes. They only care about money. Even when that money has been taken from them by force, they still see it as ‘theirs’. It’s not, any more than the wallet emptied by a mugger is your money any more. You have as much say in what the government does with your taxes as you have in what the mugger does with your cash. Nobody sees that. It’s all ‘My taxes are paying for…’ never ‘Why am I being robbed?’

There was a time when the people of this country worshipped a God, and before that, many Gods. In fact, this country fought not only over which God to worship but the manner of worship of one particular God. Some parts still fight about that even now. They should be made aware of the futility of this.

God has been replaced with Money. Everyone still worships, but the new God they worship can be folded and put in your pocket. This new God does not forgive, does not punish, does not care at all about us. This God does not see us as children but as worker bees filling the comb with honey we aren’t allowed to eat. When we die, another takes our place. We are expendable. We are irrelevant. Individuality is evil, we are to keep ourselves healthy and productive so Money can suck the life out of us to make itself bigger.

This God did not create us. We created it. It was supposed to be a tool, a mechanism to ease the manner of trade. Now it has become the hammer that hits us in the head, the chisel that cuts us, the knife made to slit our wrists. This world does not belong to God’s creation. It belongs to Man’s creation. Humans are no longer the top of the food chain. We have ceded that place to the child of our own greed. This is Money’s world now.

Everything we do, we do for money. Buying a house used to be a case of having a stable home. Now it’s an investment. We don’t have homes any more. We have brick boxes that are shrines to money. A car was once a means of transport. Have you noticed the increase in cars parked across two spaces? That’s because the owners don’t want anyone parking too close. There’s money in that hunk of tin and it must not be scratched. Save for retirement and then have it all taken from you to pay for a space in Death’s waiting room. You’re old and retired. You are not earning. You are a net cost to the economy and money has no further use for you. Therefore it’s okay for the NHS to kill you because they’ve had your contributions, you won’t be making any more so you are costing the taxpayers. Game over.

It doesn’t sound so bad. So we work for money. Everyone wants to be better off, so what’s wrong with a money-centred world?

Look again at science. Why would a scientist ever cure any disease? When the project is finished, their speciality is complete and they have to start over on another subject. Why would a pharmaceutical company sell a cure when the real profit is in putting you on a lifetime of treatment? Cure cancer with a short, simple treatment? Don’t be silly, that would put an entire industry out of a job.

In the absence of tobacco advertising, ASH and their related spongers ensure that it is in the news every day. They don’t want us all to stop smoking because telling us to stop is how they make money.

More and more children are being medicated when all they really need is discipline. Stop the discipline in schools and at home, and you have a whole load of children who have to be drugged to keep them manageable. Someone is profiting from those drugs.

More and more people are being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and autism spectrum disorders. This is not because more and more people are developing these conditions but because the diagnosis is broadening. Eventually we’ll all be on drugs for something.

The cult of money means that nothing can ever be finally completed. Completion means end-of-income so people adapt to work ever closer to a goal, but ensure they never reach it. So you buy a new computer and next week there’s a new model out, faster, smarter, shinier. The week after, there’s another one. The technology appears in tiny increments rather than all at once, and that’s just to keep the money flowing. There is no technical reason.

If the wheel was invented now, it would be a hexagon. Marketing would herald the release of the new, smoother wheel which would be an octagon. Every advance would produce more, smaller sides on that wheel but it would never reach the point of being a perfect circle. There can be no end point any more, to anything at all.

As long as we have a culture of target-driven pay, people will meet their target for the month and no more. Everything else has to wait to go into next month’s targets. A job that could be done in a month will take six, and it will be done in such a way that you’ll have to keep the workers there to maintain it. There will be new treatments for diseases you aren’t allowed to recover from, but no cures.

In this world, you will never see a cure for cancer. This world can never be crime-free, poverty-free or disease-free.

Money has decreed it so.

8 comments for “For the Money.

  1. RB
    June 16, 2011 at 10:47 am

    My old dad has bowell and liver cancer and now secondary in his lymph nodes.

    He had the good fortune to be able to pay for private medical insurance when he ran his business so he has had harley street treatment.

    Last week his eminent oncologist was asked by my mum whether there will ever be a cure for cancer.

    He said “Never.” I’m not sure why he said that, but that is what he said.

    • June 16, 2011 at 5:21 pm

      Because ‘cancer’ isn’t one illness, with one obvious magic bullet waiting to be found.

  2. Stewart Griffin
    June 16, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I loved reading this. An extremely clear exposition on the decadence of the modern world’s obsession with things over and above people.

    We should earn money to live, but instead live to earn money. Truly pitiable.

    • June 16, 2011 at 5:22 pm

      Not me, I earn money to live. I wouldn’t continue working if I didn’t need to, and I always pity those lottery winners who carry on doing so because ‘it’s what makes me feel whole’.

  3. David
    June 16, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Brilliant and insightful; and very very sad because it’s all true.

  4. Voice of Reason
    June 16, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Very well said, but I simply refuse to live that way. We limp along with our old computer and cars. I love my broken-down house. At work, I solve the mathematical problems that interest me, and try to keep the big picture – that we are teaching and graduating students. The other crap I do quickly and as efficiently as possible.

  5. mikebravo
    June 16, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    It’s all ‘My taxes are paying for…’ never ‘Why am I being robbed?’
    I like that!
    A new way to get under peoples skin. I will be using it from now on.

  6. Ian F4
    June 16, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    I assume you are talking about “money” as in the artificial scraps of paper that are worth whatever the government say it is worth, rather than the original money that was just a convenient commodity exchange ?

    “The technology appears in tiny increments rather than all at once, and that’s just to keep the money flowing. There is no technical reason.”

    Wrong. There are sound technical reasons why tomorrows tech is not with us today. However, whether we need tomorrows tech to complete the same tasks with it as we do today is another matter, which is where your original argument _does_ apply.

    (take this from someone typing on a six year old laptop and still uses a Palm Pilot).

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